Anaheim billionaire throws more money to push Kings move

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Sacramento has all the momentum — reportedly the NBA and its relocation committee have told the Kings owners, the Maloof brothers, to stay put and not move their team this summer.

But the folks in Anaheim are not giving up, stepping in at the last minute to sweeten the deal to move the Kings south, according to the Sacramento Bee.

In a late move to land the Kings, Orange County billionaire Henry Samueli has offered to increase his personal loan to the team from $50 million to as much as $75 million, and has offered to buy a minority stake in the organization.

Samueli, owner of the Anaheim Ducks hockey team, also has agreed to make far more costly improvements to Anaheim’s Honda Center, which he manages, to bring that facility up to NBA standards.

Originally, Honda Center officials had planned to spend $25 million on upgrades. That figure has jumped in the last few days to $70 million, center officials said Thursday afternoon.

Randy Youngman at the Orange County Register adds that people in Anaheim have lined up three times the sponsorship money and improved the television package to $24 million a year (more than double the current deal in Sacramento) with the team’s games shown on a variety of networks.

Basically, while the city of Sacramento’s grass roots effort can raise $10 million, Samueli can push a lot more chips into the pot a lot more easily. That still likely will not save his hand.

This comes off as adding to some of the existing concerns of other owners — that the Maloofs are taking on too much debt, for one. And it does not change questions about the viability of a third team in the greater Los Angeles market.

As for Samueli offering to take on a minority stake in the team, it feels like he’s been angling for that or more all along. Giving the already debt-loaded Maloofs another loan would help keep him at the front of the line should the team ever be sold, a minority ownership share even more so.

The Maloof brothers have until Monday to decide if they are going to file for relocation with the league and test the other owners resolve to block them. With the league telling the Maloofs to stay put, they likely do not have the votes to get the Board of Governor’s approval for a move.

There has been talk the Kings could take their case to court, or try to pull an Al Davis and just move the team anyway. Both of those are tough uphill battles. Donald Sterling essentially already did that in 1984 when he moved the Clippers from San Diego to Los Angeles and after that the NBA change rules saying that an owner cannot move a team without Board of Governors approval. The Maloofs signed off on that when they bought the team.

Byron Scott isn’t thinking about next year’s draft

Byron Scott

A month into the season, the Lakers the only team in the Western Conference that can absolutely be written out of any hopes of playoff contention. They’re in an awkward position with the upcoming draft: they still need talent long-term, and they owe their pick to the Sixers if it’s outside of the top three. Not surprisingly, Byron Scott isn’t thinking about it at all.

Via Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News:

With the Lakers fielding the NBA’s second-worst record, how much effort will the franchise put in retaining its top-3 protected draft pick?

“I don’t think about that whatsoever,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “I probably won’t until April. That’s something I can’t control.”

The Lakers are in a precarious position. They appear likely bad enough to lose a lot of games. But will they lose enough to land in the top three? Otherwise, the Lakers owe Philadelphia their first-round pick as part of the Steve Nash trade.

“It’s impossible to think about the team, try to get our young guys better, the team better and also thinking about a pick,” Scott said. “That’s six months away and you might not even get it.”

Given Scott’s mentality, it’s not at all surprising that he isn’t thinking about the draft. But with his insistence on playing Kobe Bryant and Lou Williams more crunch-time minutes on this dismal Lakers team than D'Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson, it’s pretty laughable that he talks about wanting to develop their young players.

Scott may not be thinking about the draft, but with the position the franchise is in and the likelihood that they lose their pick, he should be.

Report: Jahlil Okafor stopped for driving 108 MPH three weeks ago

Jahlil Okafor, Derrick Favors

Jahlil Okafor‘s first month in the NBA has been eventful for all the wrong reasons. Early Thanksgiving morning, he was caught on video getting into a fight with a heckler in Boston. Then, a report surfaced of another altercation from October, in which Okafor apparently had a gun pulled on him. Now, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Okafor was recently pulled over in Philadelphia for driving 108 miles per hour:

Four sources independently confirmed to The Inquirer the 76ers center was pulled over on the Ben Franklin Bridge around three weeks ago for 108 miles per hour. Anything over 40 m.p.h. is considered reckless driving.

108 miles per hour in a 40-mile zone isn’t a minor speeding infraction—it’s incredibly dangerous. It might be possible to write off any of these incidents by themselves—particularly the one where he had a gun pulled on him, which doesn’t seem to have been his fault at all. But together, the Boston incident and this speeding report aren’t a good look at all for Okafor. He’s had a solid start to the year for the Sixers, but off the court has been another story.

Harrison Barnes could be out “a few weeks” with ankle injury

Harrison Barnes
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The Warriors’ Friday night 135-116 win over the Suns was bittersweet: Harrison Barnes suffered a sprained left ankle in the third quarter and left for the remainder of the game. He missed Saturday night’s blowout win over the Kings as well, which extended the Warriors’ best-ever start to the season to 18-0.

Warriors interim head coach Luke Walton didn’t have an answer for how long Barnes will be out, but he said it could be a few weeks.

Via’s Ethan Sherwood Strauss:

“He’s being evaluated [Saturday]. We haven’t gotten the results back yet,” interim head coach Luke Walton told reporters before Saturday’s game. “It’s all speculation. It could be a few weeks. It could be a week.

“We’re not going to rush him back because we want to be healthy for later in the season and we don’t want lingering injures, so we’ll have him take his time.”

Losing a starter is never good news, but the silver lining for the Warriors is that they have enough depth and enough of a cushion to be able to take their time and not rush Barnes back. Saturday night, Walton opted to keep Andre Iguodala in his usual sixth-man role and instead start the little-used Brandon Rush in Barnes’ place. Rush responded with a 16-point performance, shooting 4-of-5 from the three-point line. If they can keep getting that kind of production out of their reserves, the Warriors will be able to withstand the loss of Barnes just fine.

Emmanuel Mudiay with the no-look, behind-the-head assist (VIDEO)

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Emmanuel Mudiay is still a work in progress on the court — he’s a rookie, what did you expect? — but he has the court vision and flair you cannot teach.

As evidence, I present this pass from Saturday night, where in transition Mudiay goes with the no-look, behind-the-head dish to Darrell Arthur for the dunk.

The Nuggets dropped this game to the Mavericks 92-81 and have lost six in a row.